Illinois Ramps Up COVID Safety Protocols Amid 50% Case Surge at Developmental Centers

Illinois Ramps Up COVID Safety Protocols Amid 50% Case Surge at Developmental CentersSource: Illinois Department of Public Health
Damon R. Sheffield
Published on December 09, 2023

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is beefing up its fight against COVID-19 in state-operated developmental centers following a spike in cases. These centers, which house residents with significant intellectual or developmental disabilities, are seeing a nearly 50% rise in confirmed infections and related hospitalizations since early November, reports reveal.

Officials state there are now 58 residents and 35 staff members across seven facilities who have tested positive since November 20. Almost all of them are experiencing mild symptoms, save for one hospitalized resident in stable condition. On the heels of this outbreak, the IDHS has intensified infection control measures, including more rigorous testing and enhanced sanitation, targeting both staff and roughly 1,650 residents.

According to state authorities, these procedures aren't new but represent an uptick in practicing existing protocols such as quarantine, social distancing, and compulsory mask-wearing in shared spaces. They've also cut down on communal activities like dining and outings at centers where the virus has hit the hardest, though visitation continues under CDC guidelines. Families, meanwhile, have been given a heads-up about the surge and have the option to postpone visits.

"IDPH has been working closely with our counterparts at IDHS facilities to monitor conditions, offer strategies to contain any outbreaks, and provide resources, direct consultations, and assessments," Dr. Hillary Spencer, leader of the IDPH Infection Prevention Team, stated. IDHS is toeing the line with infection prevention and control directives as recommended by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the CDC, reinforcing their commitment to safeguarding both residents and staff.

The following is the latest breakdown of positive COVID-19 cases at each SODC, reflecting the state's increased attention to the outbreak:

  • Choate, Anna: Staff 0, Residents 0
  • Fox, Dwight: Staff 0, Residents 0
  • Fox, Dwight: Staff 10, Residents 30
  • Ludeman, Park Forest: Staff 8, Residents 15
  • Mabley, Dixon: Staff 0, Residents 0
  • Murray, Centralia: Staff 5, Residents 1
  • Shapiro, Kankakee: Staff 12, Residents 12

With these increased safety protocols, officials at IDHS hope to quickly curb the spread of the virus. "We are grateful to all of those who work at our centers and engage in protective measures to reduce the spread, as they continue to provide quality care to all those we serve," said Tonya Piephoff, IDHS Division Director of Developmental Disabilities. The collective response from the IDHS and IDPH aims to put a lid on the matter before it escalates any further.